English Nautical Glossary N

Nanking cloth, Nankeen

A kind of cotton cloth, originally made at Nanking, China, from a yellow variety of cotton. Nankeen may also refer to a (pale) yellow or buff color.


D: a narrow part of a strait, river, ocean current, etc.

B: A small passage between two lands.


F: the art of directing the movements of a ship by the action of the wind upon the sails. Navigation is then applied, with equal propriety, to the arrangement of the sails, according to the state of the wind and to the directing and measuring a ship's course by the laws of geometry; or it may comprehend both, being then considered as the theory and practice thereof. Since every sea officer is presumed to be furnished with books of navigation, in which that science is copiously described, it would be superfluous to enter into a particular detail of it in this place. As it would also be a fruitless talk to those who are entirely ignorant of the rules of trigonometry, and those who are versed in that science generally understand the principles of navigation already, it appears not to come within the limits of our design. It suffices to say, that the course of a ship, and the distance she has run thereon, are measured by the angles and sides of a right-angled plain triangle, in which the hypothenuse is converted into the distance; the perpendicular, into the difference of latitude; the base, into the departure from the meridian; the angle, formed by the perpendicular and hypothenuse, into the course; and the opposite angle, contained between the hypothenuse and base, into its complement of the course. The course of the ship is determined by the compass; and the log line, or a solar observation, ascertains the distance. Hence the hypothenuse and angles are given, to find the base and perpendicular; a problem well known in trigonometry. That part of navigation, which regards the piloting or conducting a ship along the sea coast, can only be acquired by a thorough knowledge of that particular coast, after repeated voyages. The bearings and distances from various parts of the shore are generally ascertained in the night, either by lighthouses, or by the different depths of the water, and the various sorts of ground at the bottom; as shells of different sizes and colours, sand, gravel, clay, stones, ooze, or shingle. In the day the ship's place is known by the appearance of the land, which is set by the compass, whilst the distance is estimated by the master or pilot.

Navy Board

WP: (Royal Navy) ... From 1546 to 1831, the Navy Board was also the name of a body separate from the Admiralty, originally called Council of the Marine and presided over by the Lieutenant of the Admiralty, which was responsible for the administrative affairs of the naval service, including the building and repair of and supplies to naval ships. However their armament was the responsibility of an independent body, the Board of Ordnance. In the 18th century, the Navy Board had subsidiary organisations such as the Sick and Hurt Commissioners (responsible for naval medical services) and the Victualling Commissioners (responsible for feeding the navy).

neap tide

TFD: A tide that occurs when the difference between high and low tide is least; the lowest level of high tide. Neap tide comes twice a month, in the first and third quarters of the moon.

B: (pl.) The tides in the first and last quarter of the moon, and are not either so high, so low, or so rapid as spring tides.


TFD: Left aground on the height of a spring tide, so that it will not float till the next spring tide; - called also beneaped.


F: a sort of fence, formed of an assemblage of ropes, fastened across each other, so as to leave uniform intervals between. These are usually stretched along the upper part of a ship's quarter, and secured in this position by rails and stanchions.

New Holland

WP: New Holland is a historic name for the island continent of Australia. The name was first applied to Australia in 1644 by the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman as Nova Hollandia, naming it after the Dutch province of Holland, and remained in use for 180 years.


D: a short rope for seizing an anchor cable to a messenger from a capstan.

F: (pl.) certain pieces of flat braided cordage, used to fasten the cable to the voyal in a ship of war, when the former is drawn into the ship by mechanical powers applied to the latter. These nippers are usually six or eight feet in length, according to the size of the cable; and five or six of them are commonly fastened about the cable and voyal at once, in order to be heaved in by the capstan. Those which are furthest aft are always taken off, as the cable approaches the main hatchway; and others are at the same time fastened on, in the fore-part of the ship, to supply their places. The persons employed to bind the nippers about the cable and voyal, are called nipper-men; they are assisted in this office by the boys of the ship, who always supply them with nippers, and receive the ends of those which are fastened, to walk aft with them, and take them off at the proper place, in order to return them to the nipper-men.

no man's land

F: a space between the after part of the belfrey and the fore-part of a ship's boat, when the said boat is stowed upon the booms, as in a deep-waisted vessel. These booms are laid from the forecastle nearly to the quarterdeck, where their after ends are usually sustained by a frame called the gallows, which consists of two strong posts, about six feet high, with a cross piece, reaching from one to the other, athwartships, and serving to support the ends of those booms, masts, and yards, which lie in reserve to supply the place of others carried away, &c. The space called No man's land is used to contain any blocks, ropes, tackles, &c. which may be necessary on the forecastle. It probably derives this name from its situation, as being neither on the starboard nor larboard side of the ship, nor on the waist or forecastle; but, being situated in the middle, partakes equally of all those places.


W: A distance traveled northward.

nun buoy

TFD: a buoy, conical at the top, marking the right side of a channel leading into a harbour: green in British waters but red in US waters

F: are shaped like the middle frustum of two cones, abutting upon one common base, being casks, which are large in the middle, and tapering, nearly to a point, at each end.


cable buoy

can buoy